Last Sunday at the Music Box Theatre, we ran “We Believe: A Relationship That Lasts a Lifetime (2009)”, a documentary about the Chicago Cubs. After the film, I even got to co-host the Q&A. Directed by John Scheinfeld, “We Believe” is a celebration of the devotion of a great city for its baseball team. “We Believe” explores the relationship between Chicago, the Cubs and (at least for me) their absolutely inexplicably loyal fans.
Shot during the failed 2008 baseball season, “We Believe” documents the city and team as well as the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series win while looking toward the team’s future. “We Believe” stars Lou Piniella, Hugh Heffner, Billy Corgan, Ernie Banks, Joe Mantegna, Ron Santo, current and former players as well as politicians, historians (one of which was my old boss at the National Baseball Hall of Fame) and their ever faithful fans. Scheinfeld gives the world a look into the unique city of Chicago and why its people are so passionate about the Cubs.
Even though there is another team across town…remember them?
Not being a native, I find Chicago history wildly interesting. How Chicago went from frontier town to “The Second City” is a true American success story. This film has footage of the city actually shot by Thomas Edison in the late 1800’s. From a self-proclaimed history geek’s point of view, how awesome is that?!
“We Believe” is also the first documentary to be completely sanctioned by the team. It also contains what is believed to be the only known footage of the 1909 Chicago Cubs. The story of how that footage was found is stuff right out of “National Treasure.” As a self-proclaimed baseball geek, how awesome is that?!
Scheinfeld’s opus to his beloved team seems to be the perfect storm of an awesome documentary but then the film began…
This promising documentary dissolves quickly into a self-loathing homage to a group of sad sack fans. It celebrates and never questions why there is this culture of losing on as well as off the field. During the Q&A, I asked Mr. Scheinfeld what makes the Cubs different? I’m sorry Cubs fans. Your team isn’t the only team in the history of sports to go through a comically long losing streak. He responded that Cubs fans and the Cubs franchise were that special and deserving of this attention because Cubs fans still root for their team when they lose.
I guess Royals fans don’t?
Woah! Why is that ok? I’m not saying to dump your team at the first sign of a sweep by the Pirates. What I’m saying is, maybe you shouldn’t go to the ball park and dump a hundred bucks on beers when the organization isn’t putting a winning team on the field. Maybe if you stayed home and the franchised was forced to face those empty seats, they would invest more in the team.
Sure, I understand that for the past season or so, the franchise was facing bankruptcy and now the team is under new ownership. However, what’s your explanation for the ninety-eight years before that? Or better yet, what’s your explanation for the team’s lack of inactivity during this off-season (other than dumping Milton Bradley, a no brainer)?
Scheinfeld said that Cubs fans were different because they were generational. What? And Red Sox fans aren’t? Would you like to tell that to my cousins in Lowell, MA? What about those White Sox fans?
Yeah…that team across town. You know, that other team with a comically long drought which still found a way to win five years ago?
ESPN Radio’s own Mike and Mike broadcasted live this morning from The Cubby Bear in celebration of the Cubs Home Opener, which they are currently winning in the fourth inning. (Sigh). Did I mention Xavier Nady just hit a home run? (Double Sigh)
Anyway, my roommate Megan Kelleher and I were armed with a Flip Cam and were up WAY too early. Check out what happened!
And here’s what happened on the way home. Rest assured, no muffins were harmed in the making of this video:
In honor of this glorious Opening Day (aren’t they all?), the following are some of the funniest baseball conversations I’ve heard, had, or saw on Facebook all day…
Jessie S. set her Facebook status to say, “Jessie S. is so happy for baseball.” Jess, I’m confused…aren’t you an Indians fan?
Speaking of Indians fans, the following is just an excerpt of Maureen W.’s love letter to the Cleveland Indians Front Office, “Dear Cleveland Indians, I thought we were going to try to win this year. Remember? Oh, your cheap-*** owners got rid of everybody during the off-season? I miss the mid-90s.” Me too, Mo. Slap bracelets can’t come back quick enough.
Andrew R. says, “Go Baseball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Where? If this involves me getting on the Red line in the dead heat of the summer, I’m taking up hockey.
Peter G. says, “Watched the Cubs get down 14-5 before I finally turned it off. Cubs, you are in serious danger of me allowing my son to grow up a Yankees fan, just so he knows what it’s like to win something. Stop sucking.”
On the same topic, Eric L. says “What the ****. There’s no one at that flipping ball park on top of it all.***** you Atlanta. I hope you burn to the ground…(again)”
(Singing) Go, Cubs go. Go, Cubs gooooooo…… What? Too soon to start singing this ironically?
Upon David Wright’s homerun in today’s game:
My Roommate Meeg (in the other room): “Yey! Wait! What are we cheering for?”
Jay S. said, “You know what I love about the Yankees….I don’t know anything about sports, but I still know who Don Mattingly is. Now, Dolly Parton is a completely different story.”
Dujuan P. said to Jay M., “So if the Mets start winning, is Trish going to flip back to being a Mets fan?” Woah! Easy, aren’t you a White Sox fan? Make yourself at home….stab someone.
When Johan Santana gave up a hit in the third inning, Howie R. said on the Mets radio broadcast, “And the Mets will yet again not have a nohitter.” Dude! It was the third inning. That’s like me singing karaoke at a bar and you telling me that I just lost out on my chances of winning “American Idol.”
Mike G. said, “The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.” (Cue me falling off the couch laughing)
Lori S. says, “Hip, Hip Jorge!” Oh come on, Lori! You can come up with something better than that….Oh wait! That’s what your adorable baby girl says when Posada comes to bat? I’ll go hang my head in shame, now.
My uncle said, “”Go Boston Go! May the yank’s suck Boston mud. ;-)”
I refuse to comment on smack talk that isn’t grammatically correct.
And finally, from my Facebook status, “Hey Boston! You may have won this one but don’t be shocked when you see all your tires slashed in the parking lot.” Happy Opening Day, ya’ll!
You know, I’m old enough to no longer be shocked by people disappointing me. It’s an inevitable part of humanity’s imperfect nature. However, when it happens, that knowledge still can’t take away from the amazing sadness of the event. Sigh.
This week, I had a friend cut me out of their life after a stupid fight. That’s right. One fight and gone. Two and a half years of friendship tossed into the trash and for what? It’s not like we talking about two immature kids here. We’re talking about two people who should know better and have some perspective.
I was immensely disappointed at how disposable my friendship apparently was. This was a person I cared about, I was loyal to, I supported. Shouldn’t my friendship have been worth fighting out? Sigh. Maybe it’s the Italian in me.
So, how is this pertinent to this blog? Ex-New York Mets phenom and New York Yankee, Dwight Gooden, was arrested last week for DWI after a rush-hour crash with his son in the car. Although I’m merely a fan, I don’t think it’s disproportionate to say…Jesus Christ, Doc!
If you want to self-destruct, that’s fine. It’s a tragedy but fine. Sigh. However, the second you get behind the wheel with your kid in the car to boot, there’s no excuse. You put your life in danger. You put my life in danger. You put your own flesh and blood’s life in danger. It’s unacceptable.
Doc, you find new and interesting ways to disappoint me (and frankly I don’t think I’m out of line by extending the “me” metaphor to mean us, as in all your fans). You had an entire city behind you, rooting for you, supporting you and you’ve let us down. I’m not even referencing Darryl (Strawberry) and you prematurely tanking your careers, thus insuring a good twenty years before a Met will have a shot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That dead horse has been beaten to a pulp. I’m talking about your redemption story.
You had problems and we don’t expect you, nor want you, to be perfect. We’ve all have problems. You were fighting to get better. We were behind you. We were loyal to you. We invested in you coming out the end of this a better man, but this is what we get?
I wish I could say that this took me off guard, but this was as “shocking” as Big Mac finally coming out about his steroids use. Sadly, human nature holds true to form all the time. For once, I wish it would prove me wrong.
I hopped online today trying to figure out what to write about this week and found the following highlighted story on Yankees.com, “Stadium Seats Between The Bases On Sale Now.” Admittedly, I watched most of last season from Chicago. However, I can’t be the only person to notice that the stadium had a lot of empty seats, most notably when the team was winning. Advertised as a “Once in a Lifetime Opportunity”, the article was basically a glorified advertisement for season tickets. Still, I thought, are Yankees tickets finally being made accessible to the most important people in the organization…the fans?
That adorable idea ended quickly when I started pricing tickets. Ticket packages are currently ranging anywhere between an “economical” $3,000 to a ******** $20,000 for the season. $20,000? I didn’t even make $20,000 last year! In all truthfulness, this is not a problem endemic to the Yankees. This was just the website I was on. If you check out my favorite punching bag, The Cubs, their premium seats are comparable and their ticket packages have a waitlist. There’s a demand for a team that hasn’t won a title in over a hundred years? Seriously?
It’s a little sad. I remember being a kid with Yankees season tickets. I grew up studying Don Mattingly behind first base and developing a love of the game fiercer than most. However, now I look around the ballpark and see less and less younger children. There is an entire generation behind me that has no idea what a glorious game this is. Why should they? With unobstructed views running upwards of $235 a seat, why should a family go into hock for a game which seems to have left its fans behind?
Owners say that you need money to put a winning team on the field. I get it. I also don’t deny the ballplayers their inflated salaries. If the owners are raking it in, why shouldn’t the players have an appropriate piece of that pie? However, in some clubs, that revenue is blatantly not being put toward team development and yet fans are still getting priced out. Historian Jacques Barzun once said, “if you want to understand America, you better learn baseball.” That statement used to be prophetic. Now it just leaves me with a creepy, slimy feeling. Have we all become that greedy?
With Chicago looking in the face of another snow storm on the day that I’m about to fly out to New York, which is facing a snow storm as well, my thoughts gleefully turn to Spring Training. If not, I might lunge at the next girl I see in a skirt and Uggs. (Ladies! No! Stop it!)
1. Jose Reyes reported for Spring Training this week saying, “I’ll be ready in 2010. Be there, it’s going to be a show.” I’m sorry, Jose. If you make it out of Spring Training in one piece, that will be the real show. I’ve heard of fragile, but you make Laura from “The Glass Menagerie” look like Cal Ripken Jr.
2. The Johnny Damon sweepstakes continues with the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers as the last teams standing. Really, guys? Isn’t the object to go younger? (I read “Money Ball”!) Don’t go over paying for that business. Johnny Damon is 37 years old. I’ve got two words for you, “Mo” and “Vaughn”. Now call Steve Phillips and see how that worked out. (Go ahead. What’s he doing now?)
3. The Chicago Cubs are receiving a new Spring Training facility in Arizona in order to keep them from jumping to The Grapefruit League. Yeah, who needs the challenge of facing the competitive American League East when you can have a new hot tub? Meh, whatever.
My final thoughts on some recent stories from the winter:
1. Frank Thomas announced his retirement at US Cellular Field. That must have been pretty tough, considering how lousy he was treated by the White Sox toward the end. Frank Thomas was easily one of the better right-handed hitters of recent and he did it on his own accord (you can tell by the amount of injuries he sustained). Frank, we in Chicago still recognize you as the class act that you are and hope to one day see you in Cooperstown.
2. Speaking of…Robbie Alomar missed the HOF on the first ballot and folks are up in arms. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the New York Mets official home page on Facebook. I have to admit. I agree whole-heartedly with that writer. Why should Robbie Alomar be a first ballot Hall of Famer? Isn’t character one of the qualities that need to be judged? Are you telling me that he’s of the same caliber as Ripken or Sandberg? Get real. Yes, he was one of the better 2nd basemen in the game but he was classless and easily phoned it in during those final playing years. I don’t know. I’m not saying he doesn’t belong there. I’m just saying, that he needs to do some time on the bench…for once.
Ugh! Xavier Nady is now a Cub and the organization’s brilliant solution to their 4th outfielder issue. Oh, and by brilliant, I mean a terrible idea. I know Milton Bradley was an issue but is he the solution? I love Xavier Nady. I do. I’m a proud owner of his jersey ($7 on sale at Shea Stadium). His brief cup of coffee with the New York Mets in 2006 was a big reason why the team found itself in its playoff position (a .264 Batting average with 14 Home Runs). And to this day, his July 31st trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates that year is viewed as highly questionable (Roberto Hernandez and well-known head case, Oliver Perez).
However, for a cool 3.3 million dollars, the Cubs nabbed themselves an Outfielder who they can’t guarantee will be ready for Opening Day. Nady is easily one of the most broken down players in Major League Baseball. There’s no excuse for it. He’s a month younger than me! However, for lack of a better word, Nady can historically be described as delicate. He had his first Tommy John surgery at 22, missed a big chunk of his Mets tenure with appendicitis and Cushing’s disease and played a ******** 7 games with the Yankees last year as he landed in the hospital with his second Tommy John surgery. Christ on a cracker!
Even with ownership being in question until recently, the Cubs always in a better situation than most teams in Major League Baseball. Yes, they do not have the budget of an AL East team but was Nady their only option. The Cubs find new and exciting ways each season to underachieve. Great job, guys!